Fact-checking Donald Trump's speech calling Hillary Clinton 'a world-class liar'
Donald Trump hammered Hillary Clinton’s character, judgment and policy record in a speech the day after Clinton made the case that Trump would be a disaster for the economy.
But it’s Clinton, Trump insisted, who would be the true disaster. She’s the "most corrupt person to ever run for president," he said, and a "world class liar" only concerned about power. In contrast, the presumptive Republican nominee painted himself as a self-made man with the foresight and empathy to revitalize the United States.
But which of Trump’s charges against Clinton and claims about himself are accurate? We took a look at 27 of them. (We’ll update this story as we publish more fact-checks.)
"Just look at her pathetic email server statements ..."
Trump is likely referring to Clinton’s defense of her use of a private email server. She’s repeatedly said the practice was "allowed."
We rated Clinton’s claim False. No one ever stopped Clinton from using a private serve exclusively, but that doesn’t mean it was allowed. On the contrary, the State Department said if she had asked, she wouldn’t have been allowed to use it.
"...Or her phony landing in Bosnia where she said she was under attack and the attack turned out to be young girls handing her flowers."
We rated this claim True. In all key respects, Trump is correct. Clinton did claim in 2008 that she landed in Bosnia under sniper fire and that there was no greeting ceremony. She later retracted the entire statement. The only flaw in Trump’s speech is he said Clinton was handed flowers. It was a poem, which seems like a trivial difference.
"I started off in Brooklyn, N.Y., not so long ago, with a small loan and built a business that today is worth well over $10 billion."
While it’s difficult to pin down just how much Trump started off with and just how much he’s worth now, one thing is clear: Trump is no Horatio Alger.
The "small loan" was the $1 million from Trump’s father, Fred, to finance his Grand Hyatt hotel in 1978. (At this point, Donald was already president of his father’s real estate company.) But Fred Trump made out many other loans to Donald until his death in 1999, including a $70 million construction loan for the Grand Hyatt and a $3.5 million casino chip loan to bail out Trump’s struggling gaming empire, the Washington Post’s Fact-Checker reported.
Clinton "made $21.6 million giving speeches to Wall Street banks and other special interests. ... Together, she and Bill made $153 million giving speeches to lobbyists, CEOs and foreign governments in the years since 2001."
This is accurate. CNN and the Associated Press have both reported the $21.6 million figure, and CNN has also documented the $153 million figure. Bill Clinton alone fetched $104 million, we have reported, in speaking fees between 2001 and 2012, more than half from speeches to foreign countries.
"Hillary Clinton supported Bill Clinton’s totally disastrous NAFTA, just like she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization. We’ve lost nearly one-third of our manufacturing jobs since these two Hillary-backed agreements were signed."
This claim is a mixed bag when it comes to accuracy. Bill Clinton, with the support of Congress, for example, lobbied for China’s inclusion in the WTO. Hillary Clinton initially supported the North American Free Trade Agreement as first lady, but she changed her stance when she was running for president in 2008. Overall, Clinton has largely supported free trade deals.
Do trade deals lead to job loss? The jury is still out. The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute has estimated NAFTA cost the U.S. economy 800,000 jobs. But we found many other nonpartisan reports showing the trade deal produced neither significant job losses nor job gains.
"Then she left (sic) China — and what happened is billions and billions of dollars in our intellectual property and China has taken it."
William Evanina, director of the Counterintelligence and Security Center, estimated Chinese government-backed hacking cost the U.S. economy $360 billion in 2015. This was after Clinton left the State Department.
Clinton "effectively let China completely rebuild itself."
This is a variation on a previous Trump talking point: "We’ve rebuilt China." We rated that Half True.
Experts told us China’s meteoric economic growth can be largely attributed to in-house reforms and inclusion in global trade. The United States can take some, but certainly not all, credit for the latter.
"Now, because I have pointed out why it would be such a disastrous deal, she is pretending that she is against (the Trans-Pacific Partnership). She’s … deleted the entire record from her book."
One reference to TPP didn’t make it into the paperback edition of her 2014 memoir, Hard Choices, which the publisher says was trimmed for size. Clinton said she worked to include Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile in TPP.
But that’s a description of negotiation efforts, not a ringing endorsement. The parts where she does praise TPP were left completely intact. Nothing was deleted from the two pages where she details her support for the deal. Furthermore, we found no evidence Trump influenced Clinton’s position on the deal.
We rated Trump’s claim Pants on Fire!
"She's deleted at least 30,000 emails."
This is accurate and, in an non-Trumpian twist, actually a slight understatement. Before she turned over some 30,940 emails to the State Depart, Clinton deleted more than 31,000 without any government review that she says were personal correspondence.
The Benghazi victims were "left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed."
We rated this claim False. Clinton was not literally sleeping when the Benghazi attacks unfolded, as it was mid afternoon on a Tuesday in Washington. She worked late into the night, as is evidenced by an 11 p.m. email.
If we take Trump’s claim more broadly, that Clinton was inattentive throughout the hours in which the attacks occurred, none of the many congressional investigations into Benghazi have made that assertion.
"Ambassador (Chris) Stevens and his staff in Libya made hundreds and hundreds of requests for security. ...Hillary Clinton’s State Department refused them all."
While it’s true that the State Department was repeatedly asked to provide additional security, there’s no evidence that these reached Clinton directly, let alone that she personally denied the requests.
"To cover her tracks, Hillary lied about the video being the cause of his death."
There was initial confusion, and conflicting intelligence and public statements, about whether the Benghazi attack was part of protests about a video mocking Islam and depicting the prophet Mohammed.
The video had sparked raucous demonstrations around the Middle East, including one at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, on the same day as Benghazi. It turned out that there were no protests in Benghazi that day, and the attack was premeditated.
Some family members of the Benghazi victims have said Clinton mentioned a video in their meeting, even though she knew it didn’t cause the attack. Other family members say she didn’t.
The bottom line: It’s impossible to know with certainty what Clinton told these families.
"It all started with her bad judgment in supporting the War in Iraq in the first place."
"I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war, and yes, even before the war ever started."
Trump often points to his early opposition to the Iraq war as evidence of his foresight, but this claim is still False. We could only find one example of Trump commenting on the Iraq War before the invasion where he seemed apprehensive but not vehemently opposed to the operation. In a more damning interview, Trump said he supported the invasion.
"But Hillary Clinton learned nothing from Iraq, because when she got into power, she couldn’t wait to rush us off to war in Libya."
While it’s true that Clinton advocated for intervention in Libya, Trump conveniently neglects to mention that he did as well.
"Now we should go in, we should stop this guy (Muammar Gaddafi), which would be very easy and very quick," Trump said in his 2011 video blog. "We could do it surgically, stop him from doing it, and save these lives. This is absolutely nuts. We don’t want to get involved and you’re gonna end up with something like you’ve never seen before."
"Hillary Clinton supports a radical 550 percent increase in Syrian refugees coming into the United States, and that's an increase over President Obama's already very high number."
Clinton has said she wants to raise refugee admissions from Obama’s limit of 10,000 to 65,000 — a 550 percent increase. A similar statement rates Mostly True.
There’s "no way to screen who they are, what they are, what they believe, where they come from."
We rated an earlier claim from Trump like this — there is "no system to vet" refugees — False. There are concerns about information gaps, but a way to screen refugees does exist and has existed since 1980.
It involves multiple federal intelligence and security agencies as well as the United Nations. Refugee-vetting typically takes one to two years and includes numerous rounds of security checks.
"Already, hundreds of recent immigrants and their children have been convicted of terrorist activity inside the U.S."
The most credible estimate we found is at least 139 immigrants and up to 184 children of immigrants implicated in jihad-inspired domestic terrorist activity.
Experts said it’s worth noting that the number of jihadist terrorism attacks pales in comparison to other violent acts. And there’s the fact that immigrants and children of immigrants make up a quarter of the U.S. population. Trump, himself, is a child of Scottish immigrant.
"Hillary took up to $25 million from Saudi Arabia, and much more from others, where being gay is also punishable by death. Hillary took millions from Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and many other countries that horribly abuse women and LGBT citizens."
Clinton herself didn’t take donations from these foreign governments, but it’s True that the Clinton Foundation has. (It doesn’t violate campaign rules for a nonprofit philanthropy to accept donations from foreign governments.)
"Even though other people who have done similar things (as using a private email server), but much — at a much lower level, their lives have been destroyed."
Trump may have been referring to Scott Gration, the former ambassador to Kenya, who installed a commercial Internet connection in his embassy office bathroom and encouraged his staff to use their personal email.
Gration resigned from his post before a harsh State Department audit of him was released. But while the audit condemned Gration for his email practices, he had many other faults and ranked at or near the absolute bottom among other ambassadors.
In short, Gration’s life wasn’t "destroyed" solely because of his Clinton-like email practices.
"She’s pledged to grant mass amnesty and in her first 100 days, end virtually all immigration enforcement, and thus create totally open borders in the United States."
This is False. Clinton has pledged to act on immigration reform within the first 100 days and supports a path to equal citizenship. But she also supported a 2013 bill that would have invested billions in border security and her plan also calls for protecting the border and targeting deportation to criminal and security threats. To say that this would lead to "open borders" is a huge distortion.
"For the amount of money Hillary Clinton would like to spend on refugees, we could rebuild every inner city in America."
Clinton hasn’t said how much she would spend, but the Obama administration requested a bit under $2.2 billion for 100,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017. Clinton has said she would take in about 55,00 more Syrians so scaling up the cost, that’s roughly $3 to $4 billion.
Barely scratching the surface of the needs of America’s cities, we would need $225 billion for substandard housing and infrastructure. So refugee admissions would be a tiny fraction of the price tag for rebuilding America’s inner cities.
We rated Trump’s claim Pants on Fire!
"We’ll pass massive tax reform (that will) lower taxes for everyone."
While everyone would be paying less under Trump’s tax plan, the cuts are disproportionate across income strata. In fact, the top 0.1 percent would get more tax relief than the bottom 60 percent combined. What’s more, multiple analyses have shown that his plan would bloat the deficit by at least $10 trillion in the next decade.
"We are, by the way, highest taxed nation in the world. Please remember that."
We’ve given Trump three False ratings for this claim. Whether you’re looking at tax burden as a percentage of GDP or per capita or specifying corporate tax revenue, the United States is nowhere near the top. Please remember that.
"Our military" has been "totally depleted."
While military spending has decreased, the United States’ defense budget is larger than the next seven to eight countries combined.
And while the number of ground troops and Navy ships have shrunk, size is no guarantee of military might. In fact, experts say the Army and Navy of today are much more capable than they were decades ago.
"The real wages for our workers have not been raised for 18 years"
We rated a broader claim (ironically from Clinton) Mostly True. Adjusted for inflation, median household income has actually declined 7 percent over the last 15 years.